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SOCIAL    AND    POLITICAL    LIFE           195

central government, tax collection, maintaining peace and
keeping justice, very little came to bother the people. Accord-
ing to the Chinese political philosophy, that government
governs best which governs least. It was even so always. The
real government of China may be described as a village social-
ism. And what applies to the village holds true in the general
spirit for the town also.

The so-called village or town local government is invisible.
It has no visible body of authority like the mayor or coun-
cillors. It is governed really morally by the elders by
virtue of their great age, and by the gentry by virtue of
their knowledge of law and history. Fundamentally, it is
governed by custom and usage, the unwritten law. In case
of disputes, the elders or patriarchs are invited to decide the
right and wrong of the matter, according, as we have pointed
out, not to reason alone but to "human nature and eternal
reason" combined. When there are no lawyers it is always
easy to find out, especially among parties weU known to each
other and living under the same social tradition, who is right
and who is wrong. The absence of lawyers makes justice
possible, and when there is justice there is peace in the human
heart. The village gentry are as a class whiter than the town
gentry, although their parasitic nature is economically deter-
mined. There are good and upright scholars who do not make
it their profession to handle lawsuits, and who by their
reputation for character and learning share the general respect
of the villagers with the elders. Under these elders and scholars
the people carry on. When disputes cannot be settled in this
manner, as in cases of crime and division of property, or
when two parties are determined to fight for face, then they
go to the yamen. But it is only when both parties are prepared
to ruin themselves, for they avoid the yamen like a plague.

The Chinese people can always govern themselves, have
always governed themselves. If the thing called "government"
can leave them alone, they are always willing to let the govern-
ment alone. Give the people ten years of anarchy, when the
word "government" will never be heard, and they will live
peacefully together, they will prosper, they will cultivate
deserts and turn them into orchards, they will make wares